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Report: South Carolina allowing clinics to enroll as providers in Medicaid

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Beginning this month, South Carolina is allowing retail-based health clinics to enroll as providers in Medicaid, a move that will enable Medicaid patients to use clinics for wellness visits, preventive services and to treat acute ailments, according to a local news report.

According to The Post and Courier, South Carolina Medicaid director Tony Keck said the move is designed to expand access to care and keep those patients with basic health issues from using high-cost emergency departments.

The state currently has 25 retail-based health clinics, all of them CVS Caremark-owned MinuteClinics.

Keck, who has stern words for those physicians who may oppose the state’s decision, told the newspaper that state officials began discussing retail clinics at his request earlier this year.

“You guys [physicians] close at 4:30,” Keck was quoted as saying in the article. “People work during the day. They need some place to go after hours instead of the [emergency room]. We need to make it available to them.”

According to the article, some within the medical community have expressed concern over whether the state’s move would lead “to a fracturing of health care for South Carolina’s patients.”

Responding to those concerns, Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the Convenient Care Association, told the publication that clinics are “a resource, not a medical home.”

“We don’t want to be the only sources of heath care,” she was quoted as saying.

In a statement sent to the publication, Andrew Sussman, president of MinuteClinic and SVP/associate chief medical officer of CVS Caremark, said the company plans to open new clinics in Fort Mill later this month and in Bluffton this fall. Further expansion could happen later this year and early next year, he said, as part of the company’s plan to add 100 clinics a year through 2015.

“As thousands of South Carolinians acquire insurance as a result of health care reform, we think MinuteClinic can play an increasing role in expanding access to high-quality, convenient and affordable care,” Sussman was quoted as saying in a prepared statement.

MinuteClinic already is considered “in network” for some South Carolina Medicaid patients who have managed care plans, the article stated, and Medicaid programs in several other states already cover care at retail-based health clinics.

To read the full article click here.


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Rite Aid joins Univision-led prescription discount network

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Rite Aid has joined a prescription discount card program for Hispanics, the group offering the card said Tuesday.

Effective immediately, Rite Aid stores will accept the UnivisionFarmacia card, distributed by a partnership between media company Univision Enterprises, EnvisionRxOptions and HolaDoctor. The UnivisionFarmacia network includes more than 32,000 pharmacies around the country. Members receive discounts of up to 85% on generic drugs, with an average savings of 40% across brand and generic drugs, the group said.

"With over 4,600 stores in the United States, Rite Aid plays a significant role in the health and wellness of the communities it serves," Univision Enterprises SVP Rick Alessandri said. "This significant expansion in participating pharmacies in the UnivisionFarmacia network is essential to our goal of helping the Hispanic community gain greater access to the medications they need to achieve better health, particularly those who are uninsured and underinsured."


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Hy-Vee promotes healthy living at Iowa State Fair

BY Alaric DeArment

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — State fair cuisine usually is one of those things people should avoid if they care about their cholesterol level and waistline. But one retail chain is offering an alternative at the Iowa State Fair’s opening ceremonies.

Supermarket chain Hy-Vee and Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative will offer ways for attendees to stay healthy, starting with a yoga session at 6 a.m. led by Andrew Salgado, a personal trainer and manager at Hy-Vee Fitness at a store in Des Moines. Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative is an effort led by private industry to make Iowa the healthiest state by 2016.

At the grand concourse, Hy-Vee chef Andrew Kintigh will demonstrate a healthy, on-the-go breakfast. At the end of the ceremonies, Zumba instructor Katie Moulton will lead a class for an estimated 5,000 participants. The company will also have an information booth that will offer information about the NuVal nutrition-scoring system, watermelon slices, and healthy lifestyle tips and information.

"It’s kind of a secret that the fair has healthy options," Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative project manager Liz Cox said. "The combination of Hy-Vee chefs, Hy-Vee dietitians and the Zumba instructors will show that these lifestyle choices — good nutrition and healthy activity — are available and can be enjoyed by people in all walks of life."

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